Sunday, November 7, 2010

Well, I am still here. I come here to read all your posts, and check on everybody, but I seldom find enough time to actually post anything.

I started taking a couple of classes at the college last winter; Ceramics I quickly turned into Summer Ceramics, and then Ceramics II. I have been seduced by the clay, captured into the bondage of needing to do that every day! I have become a pottery junkie.
This is the first big coil pot I made. Big is great in pottery!
Bobby is an enabler, too. He has donated a nice portion of his shop to set up a studio for me. We have purchased a kiln, have a couple of pottery wheels, and he is busy building a slab roller and an extruder for me, AND a Raku kiln. He is really fascinated with that Raku firing. I have so many tools already, and he is busy making more, making more. Talk about obsessive compulsive!
I call this the 'Fox Pot', but have been accused of making a 'rat pot', an 'armadillo pot' and the latest, a 'chupacabra pot'. No, that is a fox, in my mind, LOL.
His tail is a spout, but what such a big pot needs a spout for is beyond me. My inspiration for this pot was a picture of a pre-Columbian pot, c. 100-500 BC. It turns out the the pot in the picture was a little tea pot, and only 5" tall! My 'Fox Pot' is about 20" tall. He has been pit fired since these pictures were taken, and is black and terracotta now. He is also being exhibited in an Art Show right now, along with my porcelain bird's nest.
I am also taking a Spanish language class, and I really enjoy that. I always wanted to learn to speak Spanish, but couldn't seem to grasp what was going on with it. Now I have a Spanish friend who helps me, and I get to speak the language daily.

Of course, my garden has suffered terribly. We have just finished getting the winter garden planted, so I feel a bit better about it, but my flower beds need an army of gardener's attention. I would hire someone to help me, but right this minute, I don't have time to do it myself. I am looking forward to Christmas vacation, to have some time to catch up on stuff.
AND....I have been watching what I eat, and have lost 25 lbs. so far! I am thrilled, thrilled! Still some to go, but I have it in my head now, and I can do anything once I get my head on straight.
Thank you so much for thinking of me. You made my day!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

An afternoon very frustrating....

I have not been here for awhile. Too hot to be in the garden just now, I am longing for the cooler days of autumn.

I have just finished an afternoon of computer training for my husband. He is a very bright and intelligent man who just turns to jelly in front of a computer. "It makes me feel stupid..." he says. I have quit telling him that it does that to everyone.

I just look at him.

This computer is a new HP laptop with Vista in it. He is using an Excel spreadsheet. This is work related, and he is EXTREMELY protective of the formula set into the spreadsheet. He keeps telling me how I can mess it all up if I hit the 'wrong thing'.... Really? I just look at him.
Sooooo...I am supposed to teach him all I know about the computer, but I should not even LOOK like I was going to touch his computer....???? He says "Why are you looking at me like that?"...

Finally, we got through two email exercises with attachments successfully. He wants to do that again. Amazing how enthusiastic he gets when something goes right. Amazing how he has just told me that I am a less than adequate teacher.

Amazing that I have not made equally complimentary remarks.

And when we are done, (because thankfully, the computer ran our of juice and shut down), he says that I am a better teacher than he is a student. I suspect he wants clean sheets, clean clothes and food next week. He has to say that.

I am not forgetting his snide remarks. I have a very long memory.

He has had a computer for years. He has a new computer that he got last Christmas. Why has he waited until now to learn something about it?

AND.....he insists on typing in all caps. I have gently explained that it is tacky, and people will think he is yelling at them. He says he doesn't know how to type....excuses, excuses.

I am going to throw some clay.

Does anyone doubt for a minute why I love 'throwing clay'?

My garden is weedy. I am frustrated by the fact that it is over 100 degrees every day, and was 81 degrees at 6:30 am- this morning. I can't work in that kind of heat, so I just water and water, and it will be o.k. until it cools off.

I hope your garden is flourishing.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Yes, there are herbs in the garden!

Nell Jean at Secrets of a Seedscatterer has a neat poll about herbs we grow in our gardens. Reading the post, the poll and the comments had me chuckling, thinking about some of the herbs I have grown.

Someone asked if dill counts as a herb. Most certainly it does, and there are many varieties. As a matter of fact, most plants will qualify as herbs, although we don't think of them as such. Roses are considered herbs, but I'm not gonna cook my chicken with the leaves.....

Some herbs are such thugs, I have to seriously consider how I can grow them before I will plant them. Oregano is one, as is mint of any kind. Lemon balm is another. I often plant herbs in big containers, and watch how they grow for a couple of years before I will plant them in the garden.

Mexican marigold mint isn't really a mint. We call it Texas tarragon. It will layer, but I don't have seedlings everywhere.

Cilantro is grown in my garden for flavoring the Mexican food I like to cook. I let it flower, because I love the pretty white flowers that look like lace waving in the breeze. It is a cool weather herb, and goes to seed quickly as the weather warms. We gather the seeds and save them as comino, or coriander. I grind them with a mortar and pestal to use in my carne guisada. Que rico!

We have garlic, common small garlic, and the Elephant garlic. (Garlic is a manly crop, as are the hot peppers, so the Man grows them.) Chives with delicate onion flavor, and the garlic chives, with the decidedly more robust garlic/onion flavor are both easy to grow.

Rosemary loves our hot sun, as does basil, and tansy. I tuck the thyme under another plant for protection. Sage is the same. Nothing is as good as poultry cooked with fresh sage and thyme...
or fish cooked with rosemary.

Comfrey is used as a medicinal plant here. It is great as a poultice; mash the leaves and apply to minor injuries. ( See a doctor for major injuries...) I don't think people eat comfrey, but it has lovely little pink flowers and big leaves. AND...comfrey is one of those plants that "Once you have it, you always have it." crape myrtles.

Yarrow, wormwood, and horehound are ornamentals here. I grow them in my garden for the foliage. We can grow the common white yarrow, and the horehound grows wild. The wormwood has a pretty grey/green foliage. They are all thugs, and I have to pull them all about every other year. It doesn't matter one whit to them, they are back with abandon very quickly!

Parsley, curly and flat grows well here. My plants are huge, waiting for the butterflies to come eat them. The fennel too, is awaiting the butterflies. It is 4' tall now and beautiful. I wonder how long it will last if we ever get any butterflies...

The lemon grass is growing so fast now that we can almost watch it grow.

Alas, I cannot grow lavender. It does not appreciate our heat and/or humidity.

But I can grow lemon verbena, and I love it! I speak for large groups quite often, and the lemon verbena is fantastic for calming jittery nerves. I break a piece with a couple of leaves, and keep it in my pocket. The fragrance is very pleasing, and a couple of sniffs just calms me right down. Everybody knows who the speaker is; She is the one sniffing the lemon verbena!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Look at what is blooming.......

I passed this again this morning, and just had to turn around to get a picture. I have been wanting to post it for you to see for a couple of weeks, and I know it will be gone soon. I love this time of year.

This is what is blooming for us.
Our wildflowers are fantastic this year. We just got back from a road trip to Dallas, and the wildflowers were just gorgeous.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

to my eyes, thrilling.....

We are going to have some nasty, cold weather blow in very soon. Like, in about 15 minutes, the temperature is going to drop from a balmy 63 degrees to about 45 degrees real quick, and we expect a freeze tonight. Hopefully, this will be the last freeze of the year.

So, in advance of all that, I was out trying to take care of some of my new tender foliage that I am so proud of, and I found this.
Tucked in among many weedy things is this little clump of Dianthus. They have been here for at least 3 years, and they just flourish. I will tend to this area this weekend, after the weather clears.

It is here. The cold, the wind, the rain. Yuk.

But I do have this patch of dianthus. It doesn't take much for me.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Signs of Spring

I have seen many signs of Spring here lately.

I saw Mr. Robin RedBreast. He is so fat he can't fly. I worry that a cat might get him.

I see new foliage, decorating stems that I thought were dead, and that have yet to be cut back.

I saw the first shorts of the season, and a halter top as well. It was
76 degrees F after all! I was NOT wearing either, by the way.

I see tractors in the field, planting that corn. I think most of the farmers
are done with the planting.

I saw crop dusters working already! That's always exciting!

I see all the students out of school for Spring Break, including ME! WhoopEE!

I see roses blooming, but that is about all. I am very fearful that my
gardens took a major hit this winter. It could well be "Time to Shop"!

I see tomatoes and marigolds in the vegetable garden; also peas, onions,
cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, cilantro, dill, oregano, mints,
Laura Bush petunia (although they are not blooming yet), and volunteer
pepper plants.

We are having lovely weather; pleasantly warm during the day, but a
little cold at night. Actually, it has been downright cold at night, but
that will change, and I am asleep then, so I don't care a lot. However,
cuttings don't root very well until the night temps are consistently
above 70 degrees.

We have seed racks full of wonderful packets of seeds, the packages being
small works of art. We have plants in the nurseries, and the nursery keepers
are looking forward to having a good year.

Life is good.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Starting to whine.....

It is raining at my house. It has been raining since midnight, and will continue to rain all day, all night tonight, and most of tomorrow. Ordinarily, I would not mind the rain, but it is also February, and that means it is also COLD! I hate cold! My feet hurt, they are so cold.....

It seems it is either Feast or Famine for us. This past summer, we were without rain for about 5 months, maybe longer. Crops died in the fields, the cattle were being fed hay brought in from North Texas. We had green grass in our yard, but we have St. Augustine, and it can go awhile without rain. We were running sprinklers every day for awhile, every other day at least, but only in the vegetable garden or the flowerbeds; never the grass. It was a terrible drought.


It finally started to rain around the first of September. I know we were happy! We had nice rain, an abundance of rain. Plenty of rain, lots and lots of rain! The ground is soaked, the farmers are ready to plant, but the fields are so wet they can't get in them! We are not complaining, because I would almost bet that that is what caused the drought.... is raining again. This is our little river, the Lavaca. Normally, it is a small river, peaceful, nice to tube, or canoe on. Good fishing in this river, good place for a picnic.

It is about 4 times it's normal size now, out of it's banks and about to cut off traffic. We have seen it where the road was completely covered over, and the water was running pretty fast. I swear, catfish were swimming across the road!

As soon as it warms up a little, the banks of this swollen river will be covered up with people with fishing poles.

These last two pictures were taken from the bridge.

I just want my feet to warm up.

Not complaining, tho.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Gardening in the Dead of Winter.....

This time of year, propagating violets is a good thing to do to keep yourself in practice, and to make a bunch of new and good plants for your window sill.

Propagating violets is so easy and so rewarding! Anyone can do it, with minimal equipment and almost no effort. Violets are usually easy to find now, as they are a romantic little flower and Valentines day is right around the corner. Also, many box stores stock them as people like to grow them inside the house. I have very few plants in my house, because I worry about the silly cat eating them, but I do keep violets. The cat will just have to learn not to eat the violets.

Supplies needed include a healthy violet plant.
1 Styrofoam cup, and 1 plastic disposable cup (as shown)
a wooden skewer, or a sharpened pencil
about 1/3 cup perlite
about 1/3 cup vermiculite.
Rooting hormone powder
Distilled water, if you have 'city' water.

With the wooden skewer, poke 4 holes in the side of the Styrofoam cup, close to the bottom. Site them opposite each other. Then poke a row of holes about 1 1/2" up from the bottom, about 1/2" apart.

The bottom holes are to allow the rooting medium in the cup to pull water into the cup. The top row of holes is for drainage. If the water gets that high, it should be able to drain out.

Pour the vermiculite into the Styrofoam cup. Pour the perlite on top of the vermiculite. Do not mix them together. Place the Styrofoam cup inside the plastic cup (as shown), and add water up to (but not above) the top row of holes. Cut a leaf from the mother plant, including as much stem as possible. Dip the stem in rooting hormone, tap off the excess, and stick into the perlite in the cup.
Set the cup on a sunny window sill, but not where it will get direct sun on it. Bright light is needed here, not hot light. I use a window on the SE side of my house. Just remember to keep the plant watered.

After 6-8 weeks, you will see little leaves like this coming up through the perlite. I usually let them grow out a bit before I transplant them into their very own violet pot.
It is amazing how many different violets there are. Smooth leaves, curly leaves, flowers of all colors. Try this, it is fun.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Propagating bulbs is the MOST fun!

I love to propagate plants, and when I learned how to propagate bulbs, I just thought there was nothing more I could learn that would make me so happy. I was wrong, of course, for I find every day that there is always something else to learn. So maybe you will enjoy learning about taking a bulb and turning it into lots of bulbs, too!

There are different types of bulbs, and the main difference in propagating them is how you cut them. Please bear in mind that we are talking about bulbs; not corms, as in gladiolus or crocosmia, and not tubers, as in cannas or 4 o'clocks. We will be working with a daffodil bulb, which is built like an onion, and a lily bulb, which is built kind of like an artichoke, although the artichoke is not a bulb at all, but a fruit.

Don't let me get off on that path.....

Both types of bulbs have, at the bottom of the bulb, a 'basal plate'. This is what joins all the parts together and where the roots emerge from the bulb. The basal plate is how we get baby bulbs.

Propagating lily bulbs is done by 'scaling'. Daffodil type bulbs are propagated by 'chipping'.

This is what you will need:
a sharp knife
paper plates- Please note that this is a paper paper plate, and not a foam plate.
wettable sulfur powder
liquid fungicide, mixed according to bottle directions.
Clorox wipes- for wiping your hands, the daffodil bulb, and your knife, if you are cutting more than one bulb.
Ziplock bags
damp perlite and/or vermiculite
a label, so you can identify your bulbs later.

Working with lily scales
This is a lily bulb. Lily bulbs look rather unkempt, messy even, but they are easy to work with.
The first thing I do is cut off the roots. If you were going to put this bulb in the ground, you would be careful of those roots, but they are not needed or desirable in this application. I like the little paring knife, but you could use a scissor if you prefer.
Cut the roots close, but don't cut into the basal plate. Discard any damaged or soft parts of the bulb.Use the tip of your knife to lift a scale to start. Very carefully, pull the scales from the bulb, being sure that you get a part of the basal plate with each scale.

From this small bulb, we will have 15 new bulbs. Each scale will produce one baby.

Pour a small amount of the sulfur powder into a dish, and dredge the scales in the powder.

Pack the scales into a ziplock bag of vermiculite. I have found that vermiculite works best for the scales. Store them in a warm, humid, dark place until you realize they have the little bulbs. Most lilies take 6-8 weeks to multiply.

Chipping the daffodil bulb
I love daffodil bulbs; nice big fat ones, like come from Brent and Becky's bulbs. They are so pretty!
Start by peeling the bulb. Cut off the top, but these bulbs usually don't have a root mass, so you don't have any to trim. Do not cut off the bottom of the bulb!I use the clorox wipes to wipe down the bulb, to ward off the yukky stuff that can get on the bulbs when they are missing their protective cover.
Set the bulb flat on the bottom, and cut all the way through it.Then cut each half in half again.and again, until you can't half them any more.You will have slices, like this. We are getting 12 new plants from this one bulb. You can see the basal plate attached to each little slice of bulb.Dip each slice into a solution of the fungicide, which is mixed according to the directions on the bottle. Don't dry them off.
Just pop them into a ziplock bag of perlite.

Store the daffodil as you do the lily.
You will check on your precious packages often, if you are like me, and one day, you will see black stuff on them. Do not worry about this. Do not throw them away! They are fine, and will continue to develop even with black stuff on them.

If you live in a climate where you have to dig your lily bulbs in the fall, you can just pop off a couple of scales before you store them for the winter. Put them in some vermiculite to grow babies, while you store the rest of the bulb for the winter.

When you have baby bulbs, you can pot them up in pots, or you can put them in the ground. Baby bulbs that are put in the ground grow faster, but you also risk damage from varmits.

Most bulbs will put up foliage the first year, and will bloom in the third year.

Most of all, Have Fun with this project!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Yes, that secretive old Tiger Lily....

Here I am again, remarking after a post that Nell Jean has posted. She spoke of the secret life of Lily bulbs, and indeed, I too think they have a secret life.
This is the tiger lily, and it is a good example of a lily with secrets. When you grow tiger lilies, you will notice little black bulb looking things at the intersections of leaf and stem. These are in truth little bubiles- baby bulbs, or seeds, of the tiger lily. They will fall off eventually, and will lay on top of the ground. If you leave them there, they will make little roots, which will furrow into the ground and which will pull that baby bulb underground. They will go deeper and deeper, until finally they reach the depth that tiger lilies like to grow, and THEN they will start to develop into a bulb that is large enough to bloom. How do they know when they are deep enough? This picture I found on the internet, remember my resolution to document every flower in my garden? Next year, it will be my picture. Find this picture here-

Anyway, Nell Jean suggested that the next propagation post could be about bulbs, so that is what it will be. Now, let me see if I can remember where I put the pictures of chipping and scaling bulbs......